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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | ICOM IC-F21 (Commercial) Help

Reviews Summary for ICOM IC-F21 (Commercial)
ICOM IC-F21 (Commercial) Reviews: 3 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $150'ish, depending on version
Description: UHF handheld radio with TX/RX range 440-470MHz. Transmits 4W high, 2W low1, 1W low2. Available in 16 or 2 channel models. Will do Wide/Narrow deviation. See Icom's website for more information.
Product is in production.
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N1WVQ Rating: 4/5 Jun 30, 2008 07:55 Send this review to a friend
I use the F21GM model  Time owned: more than 12 months
I use the F21GM for G.M.R.S. & it's great! Not as fancy as a ham rig but it doesn't have to be. It's harder than a ham H.T. to change tones & doesn't have a frequency display but overall works well. I am only giving this rig a 4 because of improvements that could be made. As is, it's great! I think it's the only G.M.R.S.-specific radio made (as opposed to the bubblepack P.O.S. with F.R.S.) but it's great!
KC9GMX Rating: 4/5 Jun 14, 2008 14:06 Send this review to a friend
Heavy duty HT  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is a great radio for someone who is needing to legally transmit in several different radio services. I gave it a 4 because I am reviewing this radio from a "hams" point of view, and used as a ham radio, it is only good, not great. BUT, as a radio in general, I think it is great. Not as good as my Icom F24, which is the next model up from the f21. The repacked models are just as good as a brand new amateur models, and cost about the same. I have the 16 channel model, and I find that 16 channels are all I need on UHF. The software is easy for anyone to get, and you can taylor the radio to do just about anything you want. The radio is much more flexable than any amateur radio Ive ever seen. It is a good "grab and go" radio.
The only complaint I have with this radio is the volume and channel knobs. The channel knob is too close to the antenna, and you cant change channels with gloves on. And I have a hard time telling where my volume is set just by feel. I have to look at the knob, or turn it all the way up, then back it off.
Other than that, I love mine.
AB0RE Rating: 4/5 Oct 21, 2004 15:08 Send this review to a friend
Good HT for limited applications.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased the IC-F21 to use as a GMRS radio and also to throw a few of the UHF ham frequencies in. (I purchased the 16 channel model.) I also had my eye on the Kenwoods, but they are very spendy and a lot of their units are not specified for the ham bands. I bought the HT, battery, and charger for about $150 new, which is no more than the cost of a comparable ham radio UHF HT. I believe this is Icom's most inexpensive UHF HT. Here are my initial impressions:

- My unit came with a 1650 MAH NIMH battery and quick charger. If this is factory standard, good job Icom!! (Battery, charger, and radio were all in separate boxes so it may be at the dealer's discretion.)
- Good audio, RX sensitivity, and battery life
- Paramaters very customizable via software
- Uses the same batteries & accessories as the IC-V8 2M HT
- Uses OPC-478 programming cable, the same one as many of Icom's ham rigs.
- No display to get scratched, cracked, etc - very durable.
- Fairly efficient stock duck (from what I could tell)

- When PTT is pressed to stop scanning, the channel you stopped on does not match the channel selector knob, but rather the channel that was active at the time scan was stopped. One must turn the selector knob to desired channel to know for certain what channel they are on.
- Scan tag can only be set via software
- Indicator LED not visible in bright light
- Lack of programmable buttons on unit (only two)
- Digital squelch - must be adjusted by holding two buttons and then powering up the unit, then making the adjustment. This is a hassle.
- No provisions for external DC hook-up (Note: Batteries America makes a battery pack with wire leads to facilitate external DC power for the IC-V8. I'm assuming the same pack would also work for the IC-F21.)
- Oddball antenna connector. Very good mechanical strength, but adaptors are hard to find and they do not seem to fit the unit well.

- Set the unit to scan upon power on to free up one of the programmable buttons. I have my buttons set for "monitor" and "power output".
- Be sure to adjust the talk-out timer higher (factory default is 30 seconds). One can also set the radio to send a specified DTMF tone(s) upon TOT activation to alert both parties of TOT (otherwise, it's very confusing).
- Select the "beep" button in the software's power settings. This way, the F21 will beep one, two, or three times depending on the power setting (Low 1W, Medium 2W, High 4W, respectively)
- Read the help file in the software!! This will tell you what all those oddball settings are.

When I first got the radio I was not real wild about it. It seemed to have too many limitations to be used in ham applications. However, after using it a bit more and scouring the help file of the software, I've come to appreciate it much more. This radio definitely does not lend itself as useful as a ham radio HT, but if you're looking for something to use on GMRS or business band and, as another perk, to use on a few of your favorite ham radio UHF frequencies, this radio fits the bill nicely. It represents a good value for the price paid, especially considering how much the high-capacity 1650MAH battery and quick charger sell for separately.

Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have about this radio prior to purchase. My email address on is correct.

Thanks and 73,
Dan / ab0re

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